Rohit Sharma Spot on About Doctored Pitches and Double Standards

Team India in the second test versus South Africa (Image: BCCI)

Whenever you overdo things, it backfires. This is not just related to cricket. But rather, it is a life lesson. South Africa learnt it the hard way at Newlands in Cape Town. The Proteas had blown India away in Centurion. The Indian batters were no match for the guile and skill of Kagiso Rabada and Nandre Burger. On a reasonably decent wicket, South Africa were in control from ball one. All they needed to do was prepare a good wicket in Cape Town, and leave it to their bowlers to do the job yet again. Instead, they wanted to blow India away. Nail them with pace on a pitch that did much more than was needed. And in trying to overdo that, they paid a heavy price.

India Australia, Perth 2008

There is a clear lesson in this. Each time a team has tried to do this and overdo things, the game has a way of making them pay. In 2008, Australia tried the same against India in Perth. Up 2-0, there was much talk of Shaun Tait bowling at 160 km/hr and blowing the Indians away. What transpired was exactly the opposite. An inspired spell by a young Ishant Sharma and some quality bowling from Irfan Pathan and RP Singh won India a very famous away Test win.

South Africa, 2018

In fact, in South Africa in 2018, a ridiculously poor wicket was prepared for the third Test when the hosts were already up 2-0. Yet again, the idea was to grind the Indians to dust. It backfired. Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane fought hard and India won a memorable Test victory.

England in India, 2012

India too has been at the receiving end at times. Let’s think back to the 2012 home series against England. After a superb win in the first Test, India prepared a rank turner in Mumbai. England were expected to crumble and India to canter to yet another Test match win. What happened was exactly the opposite. Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann used the conditions to their fullest advantage and India were bundled out in no time. Sachin Tendulkar looked in disbelief when a Panesar delivery spun from leg and took off and middle very early in the Test match.

Also Read: Bumrah haul tops Markram ton as India level South Africa series

Australia in India, 2017

India tried the tactic yet again in 2017 against Australia in Pune, and this time round it was Steve O’Keefe who led the Aussies to a famous win after Steve Smith had scored a classic Test ton on a difficult wicket.

The moot point then is simple. If, as hosts, you try to overdo things and not depend on the quality and skill of your players, the sport has a way of making you pay. What do they know that only cricket know, to go back to CLR James.


Rohit Sharma, India’s captain, was absolutely right at the press conference when he said he was fine with playing on a track like this, but then no one should utter a word when they came to India. There can’t be a case of double standards and it is essential that the touring English make note. Needless to say, India will prepare tracks that suit them. But, may we say that with R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav in their ranks, you don’t need rank turners. A decent wicket, which offers the spinners some help, is good enough for the spin trio to take on England. In fact, a rank turner might just end up making the English bowlers look better than they are, and in turn, make it a level playing field. Learning a lesson from what South Africa did and paid for, all India need to do is play to their strengths and not depend too much on conditions.

Finally, such tracks aren’t a great advertisement for Test cricket. For sponsors and fans, a Test match that ends in a day and a half is a real shocker. People will inevitably blame T20 cricket as a possible reason, while the track could well be the real culprit. At a time when we need Test cricket to stay competitive and interesting, let’s just take a lesson from what happened in Cape Town and not push home advantage too hard. The result could be counterproductive for the host country, and also cost the format and the game a lot more than we can possibly imagine.

Also Read: India, South Africa play out shortest-ever Test: A peek into 5 Shortest Test Matches in New Millennium

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